When we come out the other side of…

My father always said every experience in life, good or bad, teaches…

Coronavirus Socialism for the Wealthy

When capitalism screeches to a halt and starts its old business of…

COVID-19 child care crisis

By Melissa Underwood  I am writing to request your urgent assistance to ensure…

A Serf in the time of plague ...

Greetings, and salutations on vellum even, to my fellow manorial slaves. There…

University Bailouts, Funding and Coronavirus

In a set of stable circumstances, funding higher education should be a…

COVID-19 – A Journey without Maps

By Dr John Töns  Politicians around the world are treating the COVID-19 as…

Why Scott Morrison Should Be Compared To Churchill!

There's been a definite change from some of the commentators with respect…

Is a Food Crisis the next big hit…

By Julian Cribb  As the world reels under corona virus and the resulting…

«
»
Facebook

Tag Archives: media

Just Political Language or the Tony Abbott Art of Lying

Tony Abbott lying it seems (image from abc.net.au)

Tony Abbott lying it seems (image from abc.net.au)

Lying in Australian politics – in particular the ‘Tony Abbott art of lying’ – has reached an unprecedented level. The Prime Minister and his cabinet are taking lying to such depths that it is not disingenuous to suggest that they no longer have a moral compass or understanding of truth.

Some time ago I wrote the following in a piece titled. ‘’Abbott Tells Another One’’:

‘’If this means I am saying he is a pathological liar then so be it. It’s not a nice thing to say about anyone but we are dealing with truth here. It’s not so much that he is a serial offender, he is. I think the electorate knows that and factors it in. The fact that he lies can and is easily supported by volumes of readily available, irrefutable evidence. (I can provide it if need be). However what is of equal concern is that the main stream media (the so called fourth estate) who are supposed to be the people’s custodian of truth, condones it’’.

Since being elected Prime Minister some political commentators have suggested he has made a genuine attempt to be Prime Ministerial. If he has it has been a forlorn attempt. He has been unable throw off a lifetime image of political thuggery, negativity and gutter speech.

As Prime Minister he has continued to lie in the fashion of an opposition that knows that its words can be lost in a mist of factual uncertainty and exaggeration. Oppositions can at times be forgiven for over exuberance. Governments and particularly Prime Ministers cannot.

It is the blatantly despicable and obnoxious manner in which Abbott does it that grates. On 12 February in question time he rose to deny that he said that he would spend the first week of his Prime Ministership with a group of indigenous people. The denial was indefensible and there would not be a member of both sides of the house who could justly defend him. Yet this flagrant misrepresentation of truth goes unreported in the mainstream media. Not to mention the misleading of parliament.

And it’s not just his lies that offend. It’s the silliness of his diplomacy when he uses phrases like ‘’goodies and baddies’’ to describe international conflicts. Or when he says Holden workers ‘’will feel liberated’’ after being sacked. Or “Let’s be under no illusions the carbon tax was socialism masquerading as environmentalism.”

When a liar continues to lie and do so with such consistency and fervour one can only conclude that he is a person that believes his own bullshit. To use an Australian colloquialism.

Really one has to wonder if he is worse than some of those extreme right wing religious fanatics that blame natural disasters on gays. When an Australian Prime Minister says Australia is spying on a close neighbor to “help our friends and our allies, not to harm them.”, you have to wonder if he needs a manager because he has been handling himself for too long.

His Ministers also seem to have carte blanche to follow his example. George Brandis when asked about Abbott’s one million jobs target blames Labor and suggests there is a wages breakout working against them, the facts say that this is not the case but there is no withdrawal. Truth is the victim.

Kevin Andrews recent comments that we would become like European countries if we didn’t reduce our Welfare Assistance was lying at its worst because it was linked with fear and it lacked factual supportive evidence

George Brandis in the Senate makes the claim that the whistle blower Edward Snowden is guilty of putting Australian lives at risk. When the on line commentary site Crikey asks him for the evidence of this he is unable to substantiate his claim. Remember he had the gall to call Howard a lying Rodent. Then I suppose it takes one to know one.

Tony Abbott tells lies about workers benefits at Ardmona. The company refutes his assertions but he insists he is telling the truth. He insists that Cadbury is a different case in so much as the subsidy to them was for tourism. Video evidence confirms that he is lying but he rises in Parliament to repeat the lie. Remember the many company rejections of his carbon tax assertions when Opposition Leader.

He makes the following comment.

‘’All we are getting from the opposition is relentless negativity and one scare campaign after another.’’

I remember Peter Reith saying something similar on The Drum not long ago and all the panellists laughed. Including the conservatives.

In October last year Abbott said this.

“Can I just scotch this idea that the Coalition’s policy is or ever has been tow-backs … There is a world of difference between turning boats around in Australian waters and the Australian Navy towing them back to Indonesia.”

Scott Morrison said this.

Border Protection Command assets had, in the conduct of maritime operations associated with Operation Sovereign Borders, inadvertently entered Indonesian territorial waters on several occasions.”

Now of course we know they were both lying.

During a press conference at Parliament House, Tony Abbott was asked how it could transpire that professionally trained and highly skilled naval personnel could mistakenly sail, more than once, into Indonesian territorial waters.

We got this answer that suggests the Prime Minister could have made a fortune from writing comedy.

“Even people who are at the very top of their game… will occasionally make mistakes,” Mr Abbott replied, while praising the skill and professionalism of the Australian navy.

“Test cricketers occasionally drop catches, great footballers occasionally miss tackles and regretfully, there were a couple of occasions when this mistake was made.”

“On the high seas, all sorts of things happen,” Mr Abbott added.

“There are winds, there are tides, and there are other things that they’re focusing on.

YES FOLKS THAT WAS YOUR PRIME MINISTER SPEAKING

Cricketers don’t need a GPS to play a straight bat. Nor should the government.
Secrecy is lying by omission.

To quote Barnaby Joyce.

“I know both the Treasurer and the Prime Minister well enough to know that they are not liars”

One lie does not justify another.

If a political party is not transparent in supplying all the information the public has a democratic right to be aware of, it destroys the very democracy that enables it to exist.

In his joint attack with The Australian on the ABC Tony Abbott had this to say.

“My concern as a citizen of our country is to try to ensure that our national broadcaster is fair, is balanced and is accurate”

At the same time the Murdoch Press was destroying the reputation of an Australian sporting legend in Ian Thorpe. The Prime Minister was silent.

Joe Hockey blames unions and wages on the demise of Toyota and reckons the company privately told him so. The company repudiates the suggestion but Joe sticks to his guns. A bit sus as we Australians are apt to say.

When Tony Abbott said this what did you think?

“You can vote Liberal or Labor and you’ll get exactly the same amount of funding for your school”.

“There will be no change to school funding under the government I lead”.

Then he made the following statement.

“The Coalition will deliver on its education election promises, not on what some people “thought” it was going to do”

I know what I thought and I know what I’m still thinking now. Lying deceptive bastard.

Some time back Tony Abbott told us that the best way to understand the truth of what he was saying was to have it in writing. Otherwise what he was saying was just idle chatter for an audience.

So now I’m a little confused. You see, now he is saying that what I thought he said is only a figment of my imagination. That what I think I thought he meant is not what he meant at all. That when he says something and I take it to mean one thing, he has the option of saying that what I thought I heard was not what I heard at all. It was only my interpretation of what he meant. I mean, did he say what he meant or did he mean to say what he meant or was what he meant really what he meant.

I know that I am 73 and I have the odd senior moment but usually I know what I mean and what is meant by what I say. I also know that people understand what I’m meaning.

I have done a Google search for an Abbott code breaker but it doesn’t understand what I mean.

I am deeply offended when people lie to me. When the Prime Minister and his ministers do it so unashamedly and with impunity I feel shame for their incapacity to comprehend the goodness of truth. They seem intent on destroying the discernment and astuteness of how we communicate. Indeed if the necessity for truth is eliminated from relationship, debate and normal discourse then a breakdown of society is inevitable.

If the mainstream media cannot hold Abbott and the government he leads to account then they are as complicit as he in his lying.

‘’It is better to be told the absolute truth than be controlled by lies’’.

Alan Austin has also written a great piece on this subject.

Books That Make You Who You Are

books reading

Have you ever considered where your world view comes from. Or your religious faith or politics. Just what or who has influenced your thinking? Are you of independent mind or are your attitudes inherited? Maybe there was an event or a cathartic experience. Perhaps your place of education or your teachers shaped or guided you in a certain direction. Possibly the affluence or otherwise of your birth has led you to believe what you do. Certainly your parentage is a factor. Or Could it be that there is something innate in your phycology that makes you think in an empirical way. How many of us take the risk of thinking for ourselves unhindered by any influence? Indeed, is it possible to do so?

I was discussing this a few weeks back with a friend in the context of what draws certain types to either side of politics. Our conversation moved to and fro, as conversations do and eventually we settled on books and authors. I have been a prolific reader all my life and I think my obsession with things written stemmed from a poor education. My reading is probably divided into one third novels and two thirds comparative politics , philosophy of any nature, comparative religion, biographical and general sociology.

We can read for many reasons. The acquisition of knowledge, entertainment, study, the story or the love of writing itself. There are writers who can tell stories with sanguine optimism or nefarious evil. Others can craft sentences that paint pictures in words. Others show a sagacious knowledge of the world in which they live.

Raymond Gaito – “Romulus My Father” said that “We should all read with an openness to the possibility of being radically changed”.

Our attention turned to novels and how they may have formed our thinking. We agreed to email each other our top all time 20 best reads and to return to the conversation at a later time. It was a harder task than I anticipated because I have probably read thousands of books in my life time. The following is my shortlist with comments.

1 To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee
It was the only book she ever wrote. I saw the film first and read the book later. It aroused in me a deep sense of social justice. I have read it three, perhaps four times over the years and the sense of outrage is always there.

2. Cloud Street By Tim Winton
Winton’s novel is very much an exploration and celebration of life and family and what it means. A more descriptive writer was never born. He has this way of caressing words and gently moulding them into sentences. But in doing so he has an abiding respect for life and landscape.

3. The Book Thief By Marcus Zusak

If as a reader you want to be moved by a story and feel for the plight of the characters, this story of broken hearts and fragmented dreams will suffice. Zusak writes of mans inhumanity to man in words that only a master craftsman can bring. I cried unashamedly for the last fifty pages both for the anguish of its grief and the genius of its telling.

“And her words came from the beginning of a smile”

4. The Grapes of Wrath By John Steinbeck

No other book has had more influence on my political thinking than this classic piece of American literature about the Great Depression. My life would have been considerably the poorer without reading this beautiful but morose book.

“How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can’t scare him – he has known a fear beyond every other.”

5. The Catcher in the Rye By J D Salinger

I read it as a teenager and it has stayed with me ever since. I was captivated by its alienation and protest. It’s rebellion and activism.

6. Romulus My Father By Raimond Gaita

The concurrent themes of family, immigration and belonging flow through this book like a tide of cultural ignorance. One in which I grew up in and is exploited for all its worth today.

7. Schindlers Ark By Thomas Keneally

Reinforced my hatred of war but at the same time evoked a feeling of positivity that hope, goodness and idealism survive. Schindler is not a conventionally virtuous character but he is kind. It impressed upon me how deeply flawed we all are. One line remains in the labyrinth of my memory. A women was having a baby in one of the huts.

“And her screams were insinuated thought the camp”

8. Breath By Tim Winton

Winton’s capacity for describing water is astonishing. If you have never surfed you will believe you had.This is a deeply disturbing account of the life of two young boys and their love of water. It speaks of adolescence, its dangers and future consequences. Left me with a deep sense of how frail life is.

9. Great Expectations By Charles Dickens

Great Expectations is written in first person and uses some language and grammar that has fallen out of common use since its publication but if you overlook this its still relevant. It speaks of personal expectation and the fallacy of privilege and superiority.

10. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell

“There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always—do not forget this, Winston—always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”
About says it all. The manipulated society.

11 Jasper Jones By Craig Silver

About the fragility of family, friends and values. First love, guilt ,innocence and awkward youth. It’s about growing up and making mistakes. Becoming better for them even when injustice prevails. There was a lot of me in it and its very Australian.

12. Tuesdays With Morrie By Mitch Alborn

Strictly speaking not a novel but a jolly good story. A sports writer meets up with his old university professor who is dying. They meet every Tuesday and the writer becomes the recipient of the professors wisdom. The conversations canvas acceptance, communication, love, values, openness, and happiness.

13. A True History of the Kelly Gang By Peter Carey

I think what impresses me about this book is that it is written in the first person and one feels empathy for the injustice Kelly feels be it real or perceived. Or perhaps its that Irish in me. Or the concept of a fair go.

14. April Fools Day By Bryce Courtenay

Again not strictly a novel. I loved this book for its humanness. It is said that I wear my heart on my sleeve and I am a sucker for a sob story. All true I’m afraid. However this was real. Beautifully written with all the compassion of a father who cannot accept his loss. His son dies at age 24 from AIDS by way of haemophilia. Gut wrenching.

15. For The Term of His Natural Life By Marcus Clarke

An Australian classic about about deportation and early convict life, the unjust punishment and the agony individuals suffered in the penal settlements.

And Tony Abbott said this.

“It is a proud people that you are joining. We had inauspicious beginnings. The first lot of Australians were chosen by the finest judges in England, not always for good reasons, and from that rather inauspicious beginning we have become a rich, a free and a fair society which has contributed so much to the wider world in good times and in not so good times.”
The word ludicrous comes to mind.

16. A Fortunate Life By A B Facy

Again I’m cheating a little. It’s an autobiography really. I suppose I relate to Albert because he was a self made man. He started working on farms at the age of eight and had little education and therefore could not read or write. As a child he taught himself to read and write. By the age of 14 he was an experienced bushman and went on to achieve much and at the same time empathetic to others. The learning part we have in common.

17. The Kite Runner By Khalaed Hosseini

This book rather took me by surprise. When childhood bonds are broken and trust evaporates and turns into hate. The book explores all the cowardice of men and the animal within. But more importantly the triumph of the human spirit.

18. The Power of One By Bryce Courtenay

Courtenay is to the literary world what Pro Hart is to the art world. Unaccepted.But none the less a fine story teller. An uplifting story about the power every individual has. About racism and overcoming it. And the need of wise counsel. “Unabashedly uplifting.”

19. The Caine Mutiny By Herman Woulk

The Caine Mutiny is a 1952 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Herman Wouk. It addresses among other things, the moral and ethical decisions made at sea by the captains of ships. And ethical questions are never black or white. Morality is a strange thing.

20. East of Eden By John Steinbeck

The book explores themes of depravity, beneficence, love, and the struggle for acceptance, greatness, and the capacity for self-destruction and especially of guilt and freedom. It ties these themes together with references to and many parallels with the biblical Book of Genesis.

I didn’t send any comments with my emailed list and it was my friend who pointed out the common thread of injustice that runs through my reading. So books and the thoughts of others together with a capacity for independent thinking have greatly influenced me. It is how it should be.

What novels have influenced your politics?

A 21st century Labor Party – our future depends on it

The Labor Party - our future depends on them (image by nla.gov.au)

The Labor Party – our future depends on them (image by nla.gov.au)

Another guest post from Stuart Whitman. National Convener of Local Labor.

It is possible to argue a similar case for acting on Labor Party reform as the former federal Labor government argued for pricing carbon and addressing climate change, there is no time to lose and that it is better to make small sacrifices now than painful ones later.

As noted in a recent Cosmos Magazine article IPCC reporting suggests we may have as little as 30 years left to get carbon emissions to a level where we have a chance to slow down, mitigate or adapt to global warming.

The alternative is a rapid spiral into catastrophic and potentially civilization-ending climate change.

Every term of an Abbott government is another 3 years robbed from that critical 30 years for Australia to work with the international community and perhaps take a lead in helping prepare for the transformational changes ahead.

The CSIRO has indicated that Australia will be one of the countries most at risk from climate change. However, by harnessing our great wealth and the talent of our people, we have the potential to become the model nation to show the world how to adapt.

Yet to be ready for the revolutionary transformation of economics and governance that will be required, we need a transformed Labor Party. This is ultimately what I believe the ALP reform campaign is about – building a Labor Party with the capacity not just to win elections but to reflect, help prepare for and equitably guide Australia through the massive economic, environmental and social shifts ahead.

We must reform and renew our political movement now to be able to ride the coming wave of 21st century politics and provide the good governance and leadership our country, and the world, deserves. And we need to have an honest conversation with our members, supporters and voters to achieve it, including articulating the stark realities facing us all many election cycles ahead.

This new politics employs pervasive technology tools to maximise the participation of individuals and communities in economic and government decision-making resulting in the widest distribution of economic and political power. The old adages of “think globally and act locally” and “all politics is local” rings true more than ever. It is the only solution to address the abuses of a corporate ideology that is wreaking havoc on our ecosystem and social equity.

The corporatisation of economic and political power has brought us to the precipice on which we now stand. Society and political parties should not be run like corporations with power and information vested in the hands of an elite board of directors.

Corporate models of power that concentrate decision-making in the hands of a few tends to stifle the possibility of a fair contest of ideas and a fair system of representation based on merit rather than just patronage. Corporatism disconnects decision-makers from those for whom the decisions are made and risks our being held hostage by short-term sectional interests.

The ALP was always intended to be a member-based organisation and a member-driven political movement. We are at our best when we are open and connected and brave. This will require re-organising the party so that Labor values, ennobling policy goals and diversity of experience is embraced and opinions, and at times dissent, arising from a broad membership representative of the broader Australian community is welcome.

This new broad-based and open ALP culture will succeed if it is founded on genuinely democratic processes that work towards reaching consensus alongside a system of governance that ensures the rule of law rather than the law of the jungle applies.

Corporate style politics in the Labor Party will become increasingly unworkable as the nature of politics itself shifts to more flexible, participatory models of governance while the electorate grows more volatile.

Genuine dialogue between communities and Labor policy-makers and members helps us avoid the trap of groupthink that would constrain the ability of our party leaders to respond to and accurately interpret real-time accurate quantitative and qualitative data that pervasive intelligent technology systems will generate. And decisions based on that stream of information must be framed by our Labor values and wide consultation as much as scientific rationale.

If we fail to become more sincere about internal and external dialogue and transparency in decision-making the ALP will be tarnished in the minds of electors as merely a machine that manufactures banal corporate marketing slogans. Sending signals to our members and to the electorate that our board of directors “knows what’s best for you” only contributes to growing disenchantment with the political process and infects society with a sense of frustration and powerlessness to all of our detriment.

The decades ahead may be a grave story of the unravelling of social order and harmony across the world arising from the greater frequency and intensity of natural disasters; diminishing financial capacity of even developed societies to rebuild following these disasters; conflict over rapidly depleting energy resources and arable land and clean water; unrest from lack of opportunity, growing inequality and the displacement of large populations. This pain will be felt most acutely at the personal and community levels.

On the contrary, it may also be a triumphant story of the resilience and capacity of human beings to adapt to meet those challenges with historic international cooperation, and the application of our ingenuity and new technological tools to finds solutions also at the personal and community level.

Either way, it is a choice we need to make now.

To attain the latter scenario will require a post-ideological politics where political parties are organised around common values, and decision-making depends on scientifically obtained and critically analysed evidence not old ideological dogmas or personality cults.

Effective political parties will be those that encourage an independence of thought within the party’s membership and openness to sharing ideas and information to sustain ongoing engagement between the party’s members with their communities.

The Australian Labor Party already has those critical values of fairness, justice, compassion and equity relevant to the new politics. We already have the talent to optimise and apply new technologies to more frequently and deeply involve our members in the development of the necessary policies. We have the resolve and hunger among our members and branches to more actively and meaningfully engage with our communities.

But we need an ALP organisation that does not lock us into outdated modes of thinking, or to corporate paradigms of concentrated top-down power. We must seize the coming year to implement reforms that empower our members’ ability to obtain information and evidence, think more critically, speak more openly and act more locally.

We need an ALP that is transparent, accountable and responsive to its members and upholds Labor values and encourages the fullest participation of members in party decision-making.

If we want Labor governments back in power soon so that the next 30 years are not wasted, and so that Australia can be a model country to help guide the world through the upheavals of climate change to come, we must become the party that embodies the participatory politics of the 21st century.

By mobilising the capabilities of as many of our fellow Australians as possible and engaging their trust and involvement in the political process through Labor membership and support we can rise to meet the unprecedented challenges ahead.

These challenges present us with the prospect of a world with increasing demand colliding with increasing scarcity, that can only result in inequality and conflict. It is the defining moment for our Labor Party that is dedicated to increasing equality, abundance and social cohesion, and we really do have no time to lose to prepare ourselves to lead Australia safely through.

Stuart Whitman, National Convenor of Local Laborimg-profile-stuart

Local Labor https://www.facebook.com/groups/locallabor/

Local Labor http://local-labor.org/

 

 

 

 

Your guide to becoming Andrew Bolt!

Andrew Bolt (image from theage.com.au)

Andrew Bolt (image from theage.com.au)

First, you need to be very, very sure that you’re right. Not right-wing, mind you. Just right. About everything. You know this because, well, you’re always right aren’t you?

The best way to show people that you’re right is to point out that how wrong others are. You can attack them for being nasty and mean-natured and show examples where they have attacked Tony Abbott or John Howard. This just shows how pusillanamous they are. (Throw in a word like that to show your reader that you’re smarter than they are). You can also show how those feral losers support people like Bob Brown and Julia Gillard, who no-one should support because people organise demonstrations with things like “Ditch the Witch” signs. If anyone puts a comment on your blog, pointing out the contradiction here, delete it as offensive, as are all comments that disagree with you.

Similarly, if any other news outlet presents a view different from yours, attack them for their bias. Cite examples where they present a different perspective and use this as proof of their lack of balance.

Next, you actually quote those you are trying to make look ridiculous. But quote selectively. Don’t give the context, or the full quote. And never let them get away with irony or hyperbole, make sure that you reader knows that they meant exactly what they said.

For example, in his recent blog, Andrew Bolt wrote:

‘Every one of them knows what a supporter I have been of the Jewish community, not just in print, yet not one publicly protested when a Jewish QC told a Jewish judge in my case something far more foul than anything I had written – that my thinking resembled that of the Nazis who drew up the Nuremberg race laws.  That obscene slur struck me as a legally sanctioned defamation’

Now, the way to quote this would be:

“After,  for some reason feeling the need to point out that both his prosecutor and the judge were Jewish, Bolt wrote: ‘my thinking resembled that of the Nazis who drew up the Nuremberg race laws'”

He adds the following Postscript:

‘I have been warned that some people are taking offence at my mentioning the religion of the judge and the barristers for the complainants. One Jewish community leader has even had the hide to wonder in an email to me if I was suggesting a “Jewish conspiracy”.

It should be clear – and would be to those who know me – that the reference is made to suggest just how much an insult was meant by the Nazi reference and how explosive it was in the context of the case.’

After some selective editing, this, of course, becomes:

“Bolt went on to say, ‘I have been warned that some people are taking offence at my mentioning the religion of the judge and the barristers for the complainants… 

It should be clear – and would be to those who know me – that the reference is made to suggest just how much an insult was meant’.”

However, it’s not enough to expect your readers to just accept that you’re right. You need to back it up with evidence. Numbers are always good. Just quote some statistics. They don’t need to demonstrate anything, but they look good. For example, you could say that since this morning there have been no boat arrivals, whereas on this date in 2009 thirty seven “asylum seekers” invaded Christmas Island. Call it a drop of 100% and use it as undeniable evidence that Abbott is not a mysognist.

You can also quote experts. An expert is – by definition – someone who agrees with you. If they’re in the majority, that’s proof enough that they’re right. After all, that’s how democracy works. Any contrary views are “radical” or “whacky”. But, if the expert is in the minority, that’s evidence that they’re thinking for themselves, and not going along with the mob.  Even if they’ve only been published in an obscure newspaper in Lithuania, this is proof that that sensible views like this – which coincides  with yours – can’t get widespread publication. (And if anyone points out that  your column gets widespread publication and, therefore, so do these views, tell them that, typically, the Left is trying to distract from the main argument, or better yet, delete their comment as offensive.)

Emotive language is another useful tool.

People making extreme predictions on climate change are “alarmist”; anyone making less extreme predictions just shows that climate scientists are admitting that they were wrong.

Unions using money to further political interests is a “slush fund”; business groups, on the other hand, have a “war chest” or “fighting fund”.

Any government initiative or tax break is “socialism” or “social engineering” if it doesn’t go to an approved industry; on the other hand, tax breaks on diesel to primary industry encourages capitalism.

Climate scientists joined with the Gillard government to invent as excuse for a “toxic tax”; anyone suggesting collusion between businesses is “paranoid” or “delusional”.

Women can be “hysterical” or “shrill” if they argue against you; should anyone complain about this the “feminazis” and “politically correct” are stifling free speech.

Remember that your aim is not find solutions to complex problems. You already have all the answers – they’re obvious and don’t need to spelled out in any detail.

Your aim is to annoy as many people as you can without upsetting your supporters!

If you can do all this, then you, too, may be able to have a column read by thousands of people every day. So what if future generations read your predictions and laugh. You know, after some of the statements from people in the Abbott Government, anything you’ve written will seem minor by comparison.

The ABC of Bias, Perspective and Reality

After telling me the way that it was, he concluded with, “Don’t think I’m racist or anything!”

I replied, “Gee, I expect that I am. I’ve grown up in a country that endorses predominantly white Anglo-Saxon attitudes. I don’t see how I can avoid some of that rubbing off on me.”

He looked at me.

“I know that I shouldn’t be, and I try to notice if I’m being racist, but I’ll bet that some the views and values that were around as I growing up affect the way I view things.. Still, the points you were making about the apology to the stolen generation strike me as quite reasonable. LIke the bit about people thinking that they were doing the right thing. So long as a person thinks they’re doing the right thing, there’s no need for an apology. It’s only when people knowingly do the wrong thing that you should apologise. Sort of like speeding because you’re in a hurry and having an accident, no need for an apology because you believed that you were doing the right thing by trying to get home as quickly as possible…”

“What the f*ck are you talking about?” he interrupted.

*                   *                    *

From time to time, some Tony Abbott supporter will post a comment along the lines of me being a Labor-supporting looney, as though being a member of the Labor Party automatically disqualifies you from an opinion.

Pointing out the fact that I’m not a member of the Labor Party and have criticised them in the past doesn’t seem to matter. The next assumption is that I’m a supporter of The Greens.

You see, unless you support the Liberals and Tony Abbott, their logic goes, you must be biased.

Normally, I just laugh such things off or put truly outrageous arguments back. Or just thank them for their intelligent contribution and say how nice it is to hear that people are reading what I write and actually thinking about it – it’s gratifying to know that I’ve changed someone’s mind. Their abuse when they tell me that I haven’t changed their mind and that latte-sipping lefties like me should be taken out and shot enables me to tell them that I’m about to have another Chardonnay – which in case they haven’t heard is making a comeback. Probably thanks to Tony Abbott.

But lately the debate on the ABC has made me truly worry about the state of some people’s mental health.

Let me see if I can give you my perspective. Of course, it will be biased. Everyone is, because everyone has a different perspective. By sharing perspectives, we can work out whether one’s perspective is similar to everyone else’s or radically different. If the latter, why? What experiences have lead one to question the orthodox view? And through this process, we gain greater understanding and greater perspectives.

*                   *                    *

All right, stop the bleeding heart stuff, next you’ll have us all singing “Kumba Ya”.

Why are you complaing about alleged ABC bias, didn’t the Murdoch Press attack the Labor Government ceaselessly?

The Murdoch Press is allowed to criticise the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd Government because it was  truly incompetent – the “worst ever”.

How do we know this?

Well, the Murdoch Press told us.

Isn’t this showing bias?

No, it’s just stating the facts!

Isn’t “worst” an opinion?

Well, the Murdoch Press is privately owned, why shouldn’t it be allowed to express an opinion – are you trying to stifle free speech?

No, but on the ABC last week…

The ABC!  It’s left wing bias has to be stopped.

Didn’t you just say that the media should be allowed to express an opinion?

The privately owned media, the ABC is taxpayer funded – it shouldn’t be biased

Yeah, but what’s the evidence of bias?

Their presenters often disagree with the Murdoch view. They never have a right wing perspective, as Josh Frydenberg said on ABC radio last week, backing up the point Piers Akerman made on “The Insiders” a few weeks ago. 

Aren’t they a right wing perspective on the ABC?

Yeah, but they’re the exception.

Well, there’s a weekly show on ABC radio where a member of the IPA debates a more left-wing person on the events of the week.

Why couldn’t the IPA person debate without another leftie being there?? And where’s the right wing equivalent of Philip Adams on the ABC?

Philip Adams, the millionaire who writes for The Australian? Is he the most extreme example of the left on the ABC?

That just shows that the Murdoch Press give a variety of views! The ABC needs to sold.

*                   *                    *

Of course, perhaps Howard’s appointments to the ABC were an attempt to ensure that it had no bias. Let’s see, there was his close friend, Donald McDonald, as well as Janet Albrechtsen and the “anti-blackarm- band” campaigner, Keith Windschuttle. Balanced appointments there! And Michael Kroger, ex-president of the Liberal Party.

Now, that should have helped provide some balance, I would have thought. Or was the culture so entrenched that they somehow thought that these people might be showing a bias of their own, rather than realising that – like Murdoch – they had an implicit understanding of the Truth, and any disagreement displayed an entrenched bias and a refusal to recognise the Truth.

Let’s ignore the polls for now.

Just in case you missed this, the latest Roy Morgan opinion poll puts Labor ahead 51.5% to 48.5% two party prefered.

Now, I know it could be argued that a poll this far out from the possible election is hardly worth commenting on. This seems to be the view of much of the mainstream media, because I certainly haven’t heard much about it. Last week we had the Nielsen poll putting Labor in front one day, but Newspoll the next day, supposedly affirming that voters hadn’t changed the election. A couple of feature writers went as far as suggesting that the Neilsen poll was an outlier.

To quote “Australia’s most read columnist”, He Who Must Not Be Named, (Boltemort)”:

Which polls? The Newspoll which has the Government 52 to 48 ahead of “Labor? Or the Essential Media poll which has it ahead by even more – 53 to 47?

Oh, let’s base this analysis on the one clear outlier with suspicious results particularly in Queensland – the only poll which has Labor ahead.”

Strangely though, there doesn’t seem to be seem to be much comment on the second “outlier”.  I certainly haven’t noticed anything about it in today’s “Herald-Sun”, but maybe I was too busy looking at their letters page, where I discovered this gem:

Image

In fact, the poll doesn’t seem to have been mentioned in any of the other papers I’ve read today. Neither have I heard it mentioned on the ABC.

Although, I did read that Malcolm Turnbull was giving the ABC a “lashing”:
Malcolm Turnbull accuses ABC of shocking error of judgment on spy story
Interesting that the Murdoch press who were say scathing about the need for any controls on the freedom of the press, now have no problem with the Communications Minister telling the ABC what they shouldn’t be publishing.

Perhaps that’s why there’s so little about the Morgan poll – it’s been deemed an operational matter and therefore it would be an aid to terrorists and/or people smugglers if it were published.

A Liberal Defence

We’re Liberal – With The Truth!

Ok, it’s time for some balance on The AIMN. There have been far too many anti-Government posts and I’m taking it upon myself to defend the actions of Abbott and company.

Let’s start with the clear bias being showed by certain media outlets. The ABC have tried to embarrass the Government by revealing the Powerpoint that suggested that we had been spying on the Indonesian President. It was ABSOLUTELY wrong of them to publish this. Stories about what Australian Intelligence is doing should NEVER EVER be published. Reponsible media outlets have frequently surpressed stories that aren’t in anyone’s interest. How much have you read about the TPP, or the Leveson inquiry? As some have suggested, this borders on treason. The second point with this, of course, is the timing. Clearly, the ABC and The Guardian conspired together to wait until after the election. This story should have been published months ago when Labor was in power.

Of course, the media does have a set against the Liberals. As Andrew Bolt points out in his blog, there have been a number of articles in the Fairfax papers critical of members of the Abbott Government. Headlines like “Hockey blows $3b hole in budget” and “Barnaby Joyce says that rugby league expenses were official business” are clearly designed to create a negative impression on the reader. Nothing Barnaby says should be reported unless it’s first cleared by one of the adults.

(The ABC in particular keeps trotting out shows with ex-Labor ministers, and they even tried to make you see Julia Gillard in an affectionate light, with their program, “At Home With Julia” – a sit-com purporting to show Tim and Julia at home. But will they have something like “Hard Times With The Boys” – a sit-com supposedly showing what a ficticious Abbott is doing at the police training academy? I very much doubt it!)

We promised to stop you having to worry about boat arrivals being the front page of your newspaper every day. I don’t think anyone can accuse us of failing to deliver on that promise. But the media are upset because now they actually have to find other things to write about, but why should the Abbott Government get the blame for that?

Then there was the furore over Hockey’s request to raise the debt ceiling to a mere five hundred billion dollars. The way some of the media reported it, you’d think that debt was a problem in this country. Fortunately, many economists and other experts were quoted as saying that we don’t even need a debt ceiling. Unless, of course, Labor is in power, because they put things on the credit card and we have to pay it off, by borrowing more money, so they should have one, but a much lower one. We’ll only be using the increased borrowings to pay off the debts that Labor will be racking up over the next two or three years.

As for the recent attempts by the press gallery to suggest that the recent statements by Christopher Pyne on education were somehow a broken promise, I find it incredible just how stupid some of the media can be. What Pyne said before the election was that they had a “unity ticket” on Gonski and as we all know, just because you have a ticket, that doesn’t mean you have to go to the show. Some people might give their ticket to someone else. Or sell it. There is no compulsion for you to use your ticket and the Liberals can hardly be blamed if the media is too stupid to recognise that.

As for the statement: “you can vote Liberal or Labor and you’ll get exactly the same amount of funding for your school”, it’s easy to see that by “your school” what was meant was overall funding and not specifically your particular school. To try and argue that “your school” means “the school you send your kids to” is the sort of tricky word play that we’ve come to expect from Shorten and his mob, and really you shouldn’t be sucked in by it.

Finally, we have the inconsistency on complaints about foreign aid. First the bleeding hearts want us to help out other countries, then they complain when we give Sri Lanka a couple of boats to help save people from ending up in a place like Manus Island or Nauru. Not that there’s anything wrong with these detention centres. In fact, by the time we may even lease them out as holiday detentions once all the boats are stopped.

[polldaddy poll=7600353]

Double Dissolution Now! Well, no, that’s actually not possible…

Photo: Australian Electoral Commission

Photo: Australian Electoral Commission

At the end of an article on the Governor General’s offer to resign, a journalist wrote that there better not be a Double Dissolution before March, which is when Quentin Bryce is due to finish her term. This struck me as odd. I realise that there are a lot of people who don’t understand the Constitution, or the rules surrounding such things. But this was a political journalist writing for a major newspaper.

So let’s look at why this comment was either sensationalism or stupidity. For a double dissolution to occur certain conditions need to be met. The first is that there needs to be a “trigger”.

The conditions stipulated by section 57 of the Constitution are—

  • The trigger bill originated in the House of Representatives.

  • Three months elapsed between the two rejections of the bill by the Senate (“rejection” in this context can extend to the Senate’s failure to pass the bill, or to the Senate passing it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree).

  • The second rejection occurred in the same session as the first, or the subsequent session, but no later.

Now, the first point is that Tony Abbott has been in no hurry to recall Parliament. We don’t have a date but let’s say it’s in November sometime. A Bill has to be introduced, debated AND rejected by the Senate. Generally speaking this is not a quick process. The Senate could use a number of means to slow down the outright rejection of the Bill, such as amending it, and sending it back to the House of Representatives. But for the sake of fairness let’s say that the Bill is rejected by end of November.

Parliament won’t sit again until February, so assuming the Bill is rejected at the end of February – again it needs to be three months after the first rejection, so that’s the earliest before the conditions for Double Dissolution can be met. From this time, even if Tony Abbott picked the shortest possible time to campaign, the election would still be a month later.

So, the END of March is the EARLIEST a double dissolution could be held. There is no way that Bryce will still be there when the election is held. Well, unless you consider the possibility that Abbott will ask her to stay on for a while longer.

Now, let’s just consider the politics of this for a second. It looks possible that Clive and his PUPets will suppoort the end of the Carbon Pollution Tax. (Once they can get people to drop the “Carbon” entirely, Labor have won the Framing battle. See my previous Framing blog, if this doesn’t make sense.) Would Abbott risk reducing his majority just to get the Carbon Tax through a few months earlier? In terms of balancing the Budget, returns from any tax are helpful – particularly a “great big tax on everything” – and when you can collect revenue while blaming the previous government, why would you be in a rush to end it?

For several months, I kept pointing out there was no way that the charges against Craig Thomson would bring down the Gillard Government. He may resign because he just didn’t want the pressure, but there was no way that he’d be charged and convicted before the election, even if one ignored the possibility of him staying in Parliament, pending an appeal. The Courts just don’t work that quickly. Compared to the idea that a double dissolution could be held by March, at least there was some scenario where that was possible.

Newspapers complain that the Internet is dangerous because ordinary people can put out misinformation. Before they can be even remotely be taken seriously, they need to stop presenting gossip and ignorance as news.

 

An invitation to Tony Abbott

Three months out from the federal election Tony Abbott must be very frustrated. He has only three months to tell us what he will do as Prime Minister but the mainstream media (MSM) cruelly refuse to hand him the microphone. He must be wondering why they’re not interested in asking him those little things about policies, plans, visions. I’m sure he has many. I’m sure he wants to tell us what they are.

If the MSM refuse to show him some courtesy then he has one alternative: the independent media. We would love to accommodate him. We’d love to ask him those questions that the MSM so rudely ignore.

Tony, we’re here to your rescue. Among the social and independent media your policies, plans and visions will reach an audience of hundreds of thousands of news hungry readers. At least those readers will be privileged to hear first hand what to expect from Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

So we invite you to speak to us.

I know that political parties keep a very sharp eye on political blog sites so I know that someone in the Coalition will be alerted to this post. Could that person please inform Tony Abbott that we want to speak to him? He could always get in touch with us here at The AIMN and following on from that we can arrange an interview with the independent media groups. It will provide Tony with the best opportunity to proudly announce what he has, to date, been robbed from doing: answering questions.

We, and only we, are interested in revealing Prime Minister Abbott to the electorate prior to the election. And I’m sure that Tony Abbott is desperate for the electorate to know more about him. How can he hope to promote himself through a lazy, uninterested, incompetent mainstream media?

By talking to our keen ears we can hear of – and propagate – the election-winning policies that are currently being stifled by the media. At last he’ll find an audience to hear him out.

Hence, Mr Abbott, we offer this invitation to you to come and talk to us.

Allay the fears of many undecided voters who have not had the opportunity to learn what you stand for, especially given there is a possibility that you might control both houses of Parliament. Some people are petrified at this prospect and the devastation you might create because of your inane personality, your reliance on Catholicism and the simplistic minds of your shadow cabinet. You can dispel those fears, which is something the MSM have not given you the opportunity to do.

Your vision is worthless without public support and yes, we are here to support you.

But let’s cut to the chase. Talk to us, on more than anything, about the Institute of Public Affairs; that free market right wing think tank that is funded by some of Australia’s major companies and closely aligned to the Liberal Party. There are rumours in the electorate that every one of your policies, plans or visions has been generated from the influence this think tank has over your party. And while the MSM are not interested to discuss this issue with you, we are.

In an article by the IPA titled Be like Gough: 75 radical ideas to transform Australia the authors suggest that:

“If he wins government, Abbott faces a clear choice. He could simply overturn one or two symbolic Gillard-era policies like the carbon tax, and govern moderately. He would not offend any interest groups. In doing so, he’d probably secure a couple of terms in office for himself and the Liberal Party. But would this be a successful government? We don’t believe so. The remorseless drift to bigger government and less freedom would not halt, and it would resume with vigour when the Coalition eventually loses office. We hope he grasps the opportunity to fundamentally reshape the political culture and stem the assault on individual liberty.”

It is the essence of that last sentence that particularly grates people and the following list gives people the wrong impression of the havoc you might cause. Here’s your chance to undo it. A chance denied by the MSM.

1.   Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it. It will be one thing to remove the burden of the carbon tax from the Australian economy. But if it is just replaced by another costly scheme, most of the benefits will be undone.
2.   Abolish the Department of Climate Change
3.   Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
4.   Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
5.   Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council
6.   Repeal the renewable energy target
7.   Return income taxing powers to the states
8.   Abolish the Commonwealth Grants Commission
9.   Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
10. Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
11.  Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
12.  Repeal the National Curriculum
13.  Introduce competing private secondary school curriculums
14.  Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
15.  Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced’
16.  Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
17.  End local content requirements for Australian television stations
18.  Eliminate family tax benefits
19.  Abandon the paid parental leave scheme
20. Means-test Medicare
21. End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
22. Introduce voluntary voting
23. End mandatory disclosures on political donations
24. End media blackout in final days of election campaigns
25. End public funding to political parties
26. Remove anti-dumping laws
27. Eliminate media ownership restrictions
28. Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board
29. Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
30. Cease subsidising the car industry
31. Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction
32. Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games
33 Deregulate the parallel importation of books
34. End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws
35. Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP
36. Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit
37. Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a searchable database
38. Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other products, including alcohol and fast food
39. Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
40. Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
41. Repeal the alcopops tax
42 Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including:

a) Lower personal income tax for residents
b) Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
c) Encourage the construction of dams

43. Repeal the mining tax
44. Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states
45. Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold
46. Cut company tax to an internationally competitive rate of 25 per cent
47. Cease funding the Australia Network
48. Privatise Australia Post
49. Privatise Medibank
50. Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
51. Privatise SBS
52. Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
53. Repeal the Fair Work Act
54. Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
55. Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors
56. Abolish the Baby Bonus
57. Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant
58. Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
59. Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
60. Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
61. Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States
62. End all public subsidies to sport and the arts
63. Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
64. End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local manufacturers in government tendering
65. Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification
66. Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship
67. Means test tertiary student loans
68. Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
69. Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built
70. End all government funded Nanny State advertising
71. Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling
72. Privatise the CSIRO
73. Defund Harmony Day
74. Close the Office for Youth
75. Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme

Of course, some of those have very little bearing on the electorate. But some have a massive impact. You have been denied the opportunity to discuss these issues with the MSM while we in the independent media have been screaming for you to have a say. So come along and meet with us. Let us be the microphone that blasts your message across Australia. I doubt you’ll never get another chance.

We’d love to chat with you about the above, plus much more. You might even take this as an opportunity to re-affirm that WorkChoices is dead in the water. Put our minds at ease. You can only do this through bypassing the MSM.

My thanks go to John Lord whose article “Public apathy and 75 ideas to make you shudder” inspired this invitation to Tony Abbott.

Poll woes for Julia Gillard – the solution, possibly the final solution!

IMG_0956

The polls don’t look good for Julia Gillard (image from heraldsun.com.au)

Newspoll is suggesting that the Julia Gillard Labor Government is heading for a thumping. It seems hopeless, and there is speculation that it may start a fresh round of leadership speculation.

Ok, I guess I should nail my colours to the mast here and say that I’ve never really been a whole-hearted Julia Gillard supporter. I always thought that her voice was too nasal and that her hairstyle so unlike previous leaders, so I doubted that she’d ever become PM, but she somehow managed to get there, and slowly she’s won me over by her focus on good policy and getting things done, rather than the politics.

But it seems I’m in the minority. So I have to concede that instead of concentrating on silly things like the NBN, which apparently causes asbestos to appear in the street, or disability insurance, she should have been concentrating on keeping our borders safe. While Julia Gillard has been twiddling her thumbs, the Opposition have been working on a deal with Indonesia to stop the boats, and pretty soon they’ll have that in a form where they can let the Indonesians know about it.

I know that the only way that Labor can defuse this boat issue is to come up with a better policy. All right, they did try the Malaysian solution, but the Liberals complained that was inhumane. They did try the Pacific Solution, which the Liberals complained was their policy – until it hasn’t worked. Now the Liberals are suggesting that the only way is to tow back the boats. But I suggest that Labor should go one step further and have a “Sink the Boats” policy – in a totally humane way, of course. We’d only be sinking them to discourage other people from taking that risky voyage in a leaky boat.

Of course, we know that Julia Gillard won’t do this, so the only thing to do is to replace her as leader. Kevin Rudd would be divisive and make it appear as they Labor didn’t know what it was doing. They could offer it to Malcolm Turnbull, but I hear a rumour that he’d have a problem with sinking innocent women and children, so that only leaves one option. They should offer the leadership to Gina Rinehart. (Although Turnbull no longer has a problem with rising sea levels, since he got rolled as Opposition Leader for endorsing an emissions trading scheme!).

I know that it may seem a little strange, but I don’t see anyone else who’d have enough money to counter Rupert’s push to install Tony. And I know some of you would say that she wouldn’t be prepared to stand for the Labor Party, but I’m sure that if they promised to abolish the Mining Tax, the Carbon Tax and slash the minimum wage to $5 a day, she’d consider it. An agreement that they’d re-introduce Work Choices should just about clinch the deal.

Of course, they’ve already got a problem with the Budget not balancing this year, so rather than restricting spending and trying to raise revenue before the election, they could offer tax cuts to all and re-introduce the Baby Bonus retrospectively for anyone who’d ever been a baby.

In an effort to reduce the damage of Craig Thomson, all union officials should be jailed pending investigation. Once they can prove that they’ve never done anything wrong, they can be released, of course, but only after they’ve won the election. (Anyone who confesses to the theft of a pen could be released for time already served, in the hope that it’d encourage others to admit to crimes also).

With these simple steps, Labor may again be a winning chance at the election. And surely, winning the election’s what counts. In forty years, no-one will care that Julia Gillard introduced the NDIS. After all, who remembers that Gough introduced Medicare (Medibank) or that he bought “Blue Poles” for a fraction of its value today. But we all remember who won the 1974 election…

Don’t we?

Fast Food, Slow Cooking and the Future of the Media

Ronald

Photo: characters.wikia.com

For much of the twentieth century, society was concerned with doing things faster. Fast food outlets, microwave ovens to heat things quickly, instant meals. More recently, there has been a greater emphasis on slow cooking. Taking one’s time, “striving to preserve traditional and regional elements of the cuisine”.

Similarly, the media has been concerned with getting the scoop, being first with the news, and this has led to inaccuracies such as the photo of the wrong two people being identified as suspects in the Boston bombings. Slogans like “We’re first with the news” or similar are common, and even the word itself – “news” – suggests something up to the minute. News is still trying to be fast food, when it should be attempting slow cooking.

If that doesn’t make sense to you, that’s ok – I don’t think Rupert or the News Media have got it either. On nearly any story, Facebook, Twitter or whatever becomes the trendy social media of the day will out-scoop the MSM. Photos of the event or disaster will be whizzing around the world before they hit the desks of professional journalists. If Murdoch wants to keep his papers viable behind a pay wall, then he needs to start being concerned about accuracy rather than speed. Newspapers need to be able to say “We are the authoritative voice here, we haven’t rushed to print, we’ve checked the facts, followed up the sources, this is not the rumour, this appears to be the REAL situation”. An unnamed source who told someone something off the record is not “news”. A report on Twitter that a Hollywood star has died is not worth reporting unless it is verified.

If newspapers can start to do this, then they have a future. If not, we may as well get ours news straight from Facebook or that site that assures that “fracking” is safe. Why pay for rumours, when we can just as easily read them for free?

 

An Open Letter to Michelle Grattan

Michelle Gratton (photo by smh.com.au)

Michelle Gratton (photo by smh.com.au)

Dear Michelle Grattan

I’m writing to congratulate you on your new job as Professorial Fellow at University of Canberra and your other new job – Associate Editor (Politics) and Chief Political Correspondent at The Conversation.

I couldn’t help but notice that your article on your new platform this week, Gillard and Baillieu offer stark contrast, was no different from what you have been writing since 2010. In fact, it could have been an article cut and paste from things you have already said, and have been saying constantly for the past two years. I just wanted to let you know that I, as a member of the ‘Mr and Mrs Average’ community that you mention in this article (which I assume means anyone outside of the Canberra Press Gallery), am sick to death of your campaign to fuel the fires of ‘leadership tension’ within the government. I am sick of your chosen ‘narrative’ that Gillard is lacking in credibility, that she is desperate, and that she is a failed Prime Minister, because frankly, your view of reality, and that of the electorate, are so far removed from each other that they must exist in separate universes.

It was interesting that when you left The Age, you offered this advice:

“Diversity matters because we need many voices – as many as possible commenting on politics and interpreting politics and I think what we’re seeing at the moment is too much concentration of voices, frankly.”

Really? Perhaps you don’t visit any websites except those owned by Fairfax, News Ltd and the ABC, so perhaps your opinion that ‘diversity’ is lacking is understandable. In fact, I couldn’t agree with you more that diversity does matter but I find it fairly hilarious that you’re the one saying we need more of it. You – the person who has written the same thing on the same subject almost every week now for two years, who is clearly obsessed with the Kevin Rudd leadership spill and so clearly despises the Prime Minister and anything her government does – are calling for more diversity. Just a hint Michelle – there is plenty of diversity out there. Been on Twitter lately? Looked at any independent news sites and blogs? Instead of offering the opposite of diversity with your broken record of meaningless drivel about how Rudd is going to challenge at any moment and that Gillard’s government is a failure, you should be urging yourself to be more diverse. How about some scrutiny of Tony Abbott and his potential policies? How about a look at the successes of the Gillard government, which would have to include some policy analysis? Ever heard of policy? How about some diversity in your tired old narrative Michelle?

What really annoys me about you Michelle is that you should know better. You’ve been in the Press Gallery for long enough to have seen it all. You know that Gillard beat Rudd in the 2012 Labor leadership ballot by 40 votes. You also know that Abbott only won the leadership of the Liberal Party by 1 vote. So which leader is in a more precarious situation? This week, when the Victorian Liberal Party ‘assassinated’ their first term Premier, I almost had to assume your Twitter account had been hacked, or that you were parodying yourself with this Tweet:

“Yes, it’s a long bow but reckon this could add to the federal destabilization”.

Maybe it’s time we called you ‘long bow’ Grattan. I think that works.

As Political Editor of The Age, you had a very responsible position. Being a journalist is an important job. Yes, it’s becoming less and less important as media consumers get our news from many different sources. However, you still had the responsibility to watch the political scene closely and to tell us, in a fair and balanced way, what is going on. But while you were focused on un-named sources from the Labor party, who you claimed supported Rudd, and while you obsessed over the imminent Labor leadership spill that never happened, with articles like this, this, this, and this, you were missing some very important things that media consumers should have been reading about. Policy is one of them. Costings of policies is another. Abbott’s relationship with News Ltd and Gina Rinehart is yet another. And how about Ashbygate? You probably thought you were above reporting a conspiracy to bring down a government, but the irony is, you were working on the very same thing! And this wasn’t your job Michelle. It’s wasn’t your job to campaign. It wasn’t your job to tell the Prime Minister to resign. Your job was to watch, analyse and report. People trusted you to do this in a balanced way. You abused this trust every time you turned on your Fairfax computer.

Now that you are at The Conversation, you have an even greater responsibility. According to your new organisation’s mission, you should be providing:

“Access to independent, high-quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism…”

I don’t think any of these adjectives apply to your work as I have seen it Michelle. Your repetition about Gillard’s ‘failures’ are unfair, untrue and unbalanced.

None of this history bodes well for your association with The Conversation. You’re bringing to it the same old ‘Gillard is bad, Abbott is good’ narrative. Apart from the lack of balance, the repetition drives away readers. First we skip over your articles because we know we have already read them before. Then we start skipping over the website altogether. This is sad because The Conversation ought to be a place where we can find independent analysis. But now you’re damaging the brand.

You’ll no doubt write me off as some rusted-on Laborite who just doesn’t want to hear the truth. But you don’t have the monopoly of truth. We know there are people in the Labor party trying to undermine Gillard, but which political party isn’t this true of? And how is this constant speculation helpful for genuine political debate? Even if I were a right-winger, you’d still be repetitive, and not giving us policy substance that is crucial to political reporting. We want to know about policy, and you never deliver this. By ruining The Conversation, you are decreasing the very diversity which you said yourself is lacking in political reporting. So although I’m congratulating you on your new job, I’m not optimistic about what this career move will deliver to media consumers. Perhaps it’s time you fell on your sword.

Oh please, shoot me now!

Anybody who watched – sorry, laboured through the ABC’s QandA last night could not have helped to notice that, despite the multitude of tweets begging for a question to Christopher Pyne on the Ashbygate affair … it was definitely off limits. The ABC, in their wisdom, preferred to direct the discussion about a Labor Government who is apparently out of touch with the electorate (and quickly gave the floor to Amanda Vanstone), or the lack of public transport in Western Sydney. It was about as gripping as an episode of Basil Brush.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only viewer to tune in to watch Pyne face a few curved balls. I guess we know the ABC’s agenda: Go lightly on the Opposition. Somewhere up the hierarchy someone is pulling a few strings.

Last night the public might have thought it was given its first real chance to pursue this important electoral issue. We’ve sat by and watch our media do nothing, say nothing. And last night they shut the door on their viewers.

The media has an agenda. Today on news.com another side of the agenda was on pathetic display. We read:

Mr Abbott is expected to have a wealth of material to draw upon from over summer since parliament last met last November.

Ms Gillard’s leadership has been dogged over the past week by speculation about a Kevin Rudd return, more poor opinion polls, the mismanaged Cabinet reshuffle and the charging of suspended Labor MP Craig Thomson a day after announcing the election date.

So in less than 24 hours I’ve learned that the media wants to kill the real stories and replace it with opinion, speculation, and outright lies.

I want to dissect the second sentence of the above quote and ask the writer some questions:

  • I’d like to know a bit more about the leadership speculation about a Kevin Rudd return. To my knowledge the only speculation has been generated by our mainstream media in search of another unsubstantiated story, yet one that will tarnish the Government. Can you thus substantiate that claim?
  • How much poorer are the opinion polls for Labor compared to their showing over the past 12 months? And have you bothered to look at the latest Morgan Poll which shows Labor only one point behind the LNP?
  • How was it a mismanaged Cabinet reshuffle? Is that a fact or is that just your opinion? Can you tell me how it should have been conducted?
  • Yes, Craig Thomson is a suspended Labor MP but he is now an Independent MP. Why not state that? Oh that’s right, it would be less harmful to Julia Gillard to do so.

If this is the best our media can perform, then please, shoot me now. I don’t want them deciding who runs this country.

Australian Media Fuelling Doubt with Speculation Specfest

Fran Kellly (image from theaustralian.com.au)

Fran Kelly (image from theaustralian.com.au)

It hasn’t taken ABC Radio National’s Breakfast program long to get back to normal. Its bleak view of the world in general and Australia in particular was in full swing this morning.

Presenter Fran Kelly and Michelle Grattan, daily guest from Fairfax’s newspaper The Age, shared their usual specfest about the national political scene. They hit a new low, discussing the speculation that there may be further ministerial resignations from the Gillard government before the 14 September election.

The analysis: “it is fuelling doubt”. It’s all about perceptions: “impressions of chaos”, “perceptions have taken over”. As Kelly noted, Grattan’s article on Saturday argued that “JULIA Gillard’s problems with her reshuffle will be how it is perceived”.

By whom, the press gallery? I’m sure they’re not using terms such as “sinking ship” or “spinning out of control”. On ABC TV news, Greg Jennett offered this gem when introducing Gillard’s press conference with the two retiring ministers: “These are the melancholy days of governing”. An “emotional” event in the PM’s words, a sad day. Why the hyperbole, with an emotive, negative and inaccurate word like “melancholy”?

Just who is fuelling doubt? What was the origin of this speculation? Michelle’s take on more resignations: there are “none known about. The government probably doesn’t expect anymore”. BUT “you never know what happens”.

There aren’t even the usual anonymous party sources or leaks used as justification for this kind of beat-up.

You can listen to the segment here.

This kind of negativity goes hand-in-hand with the constant talking-down of the Australian economy. If you believed the gloom on Breakfast and other ABC programs, you’d have sold all your shares months ago and slashed your financial wrists.

Another Fairfax journalist is grappling with this problem. Economics editor Ross Gittins wonders:

It’s long been clear from polling that the electorate doesn’t regard the government as good at managing the economy.

Why this should be so is a puzzle.

At least Ross usually tries to counter this perception. The headline might well be a factor: Why voters believe the economy is in trouble

Another Fairfax publication, the Australian Financial Review, joined in the specfest in
Gillard feared leadership tilt. According to Phillip Coorey and Laura Tingle:

Fear of sparking a leadership ballot at the end of last year was a key ­reason Julia Gillard delayed until last week the decision to reshuffle her cabinet.

Or did she? Later the article gives the game away. It clearly contradicts itself under the sub-heading MEDIA SPECULATION:

While the Prime Minister did not think there was a likelihood of an actual challenge, media speculation at the time was stoking unrest.

Perhaps Phillip and Laura took turns to write paragraphs.

Apparently, the Insiders managed to get to policy matters 47 minutes into the hour-long TV show. I’ll rely on twitter as the source. It’s as reliable as “you never know what happens”!

Anyway the current specfest is a substitute for the usual mindless speculation about the date of the election or the Kevin Rudd challenge meme. When there is no challenge or likelihood of one, the journos have to dance around it, creating their own smoke.

This post originally appeared on Kevin’s blog Labor View from Bayside

 

Trial by media

Image source: en.wikipedia.org

Image source: en.wikipedia.org

In the heart of the nation’s capital, in the heart of its Parliament, we have the Canberra Press Gallery and, in its private alcove, the National Press Club. It appears to be the beating heart of the political news media bias that is driving at least half of the country nuts.

The National Press Club has a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NationalPressClubofAustralia?ref=stream and when you start looking around you don’t have to go far to see obvious signs of bias.

What’s obvious is a single announcement of guest appearances by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and, on the following day, the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott. Further down the page there’s a separate notice for the appearance of Mr Abbott. No sign of a separate notice for Ms Gillard, so that looks like favouritism.

What’s not so obvious is a complaint by Neil Spencer, on December 16, 2012. Mr Spencer questions the relatively poor coverage of the outcome of a court case which has become known as Ashbygate. The hearing created sensational front page news. The verdict was buried in the back pages.

Instead of replying directly to Mr Spencer’s post, the FB page administrator referred him to another story in The Daily Telegraph relating to action being taken against the former Speaker, Peter Slipper, by the Federal Police. The administrator makes the rather snide remark: “We thought you would appreciate this one.”

Clearly, the administrator is of the same mind as the Opposition Leader, Mr Abbott. In three separate and long-running attacks on the government Mr Abbott has chosen to ignore the rule of law, the assumption of innocence, and demand that the government leap into a guilty verdict that would advantage him politically and damage our legal and parliamentary process severely (see Lies, damned lies and sour grapes http://bit.ly/UBgzNm).

Mr Spencer’s post, the administrator’s response, and my comment appear in full (so far January 18, 2013 12.45 pm) below.

Neil Spencer

To all you journalists please read the following:

I am very disillusioned with the media response to the Slipper/Ashby verdict. The whole issue is being played down by most media outlets. I don’t know why. Here is a story that any investigative journalist would love to get their teeth into. But yet there is this apprehension from the print media and on air media alike. The Daily Telegraph reported the verdict of the case on page 17 on 13th December. That in itself is an admission of reporting bias. [Right-wing News Limited commentator] Chris Kenny stated that [Prime Minister] Julia Gillard shouldn’t get involved in this muck raking. My god. After what she has been subjected to from the Opposition and, in particular Tony Abbott, she has every reason to ask Mr Abbott for a full explanation. The Australian people deserve a full explanation.

The Australian people deserve to have balanced reporting on all issues, especially those of a political nature. Is there not one journalist out there who is in the MSM who is prepared to investigate the story of possible conspiracy by Brough and other members of the LNP? Are they afraid there might be repercussions from their employer if they did so? If that is the case, then they are being accessories after the fact by assisting in concealing the truth. The employer would not be the type of employer that a professional journalist should be associated with. Regardless of the outcome of investigations our country will be the better for it.

I just don’t know how reputable journalists can be instructed on what they should or should not investigate. If a story comes to light then a journalist should find out the facts by investigating until such time as the story can go no further. Under the present climate of investigation a Watergate could be carried out in this country and the perpetrators would be able to get away with it. God help Australia.

Like · · December 16, 2012 at 8:28pm

National Press Club of Australia

We thought you would appreciate this one: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/vintage-peter-slipper-accused-of-fraud/story-fndo28a5-1226549859639

January 10 at 9:54am · Like

Barry Tucker

Neil Spencer raised a valid point. You didn’t address his complaint. Instead, you referred him to another Telegraph story about Federal Police charging Mr Slipper with fraud (their first attempt to charge him fell through, so they went back further in history to find another one).

Your failure to address Mr Spencer’s complaint is pathetic. Referring him to another story (in which Mr Slipper is a defendant and not proven guilty of anything) is even worse. It is worse because your actions in this matter amount to Trial by Media. Your actions tell me that you believe Mr Slipper is not entitled to natural justice, that in the view of the National Press Club he is guilty and must remain so, regardless of the outcome of the Ashby/Slipper court case and the comments and judgment of Justice Rares.
41 minutes ago · Edited · Like · 1

If there are any further developments, I will add to this article.


Further comment: The Daily Telegraph article that Neil Spencer was referred to was written by News Limited journalists Steve* Lewis and Patrick Lion. Steve Lewis was liaising with James Ashby before he filed his sexual harassment claim against Mr Slipper in the Federal Court. Mr Lewis was summonsed to appear before the court.

[*Steve Lewis was elected to his second term as vice president of the National Press Club in 2009. I did not know that when I wrote this story yesterday.]

The judge ruled that matters related to cab charge documents had nothing to do with the allegations of sexual harassment and were introduced in an attempt to damage Mr Slipper’s character in order to strengthen Mr Ashby’s claim.

The Lewis/Lion story acknowledges Mr Slipper’s court victory. It then refers to Mr Ashby’s allegations re the cabcharge dockets, which the judge has ruled are irrelevant:

The allegations are a major setback for the former speaker, who three weeks ago secured a victory when allegations of sexual harassment were thrown out in the Federal Court. His accuser, former adviser James Ashby, alleged he saw Mr Slipper signing blank Cabcharge dockets on visits to Sydney in early 2012. Those allegations are not the subject of the court action.

Note carefully the last sentence above. If Mr Ashby’s evidence re cabcharge documents has been ruled irrelevant, and “Those allegations are not the subject of the court action.” then what is the point of including the last two sentences in italic above?

In his judgment, Justice Steven Rares said Mr Lewis ”was motivated by the opportunity to obtain newsworthy stories”. He also noted there was ”nothing unusual in a symbiotic relationship between members of the media … and persons involved in politics”.

It may not be obvious to the casual reader, but it is clear to me that Mr Lewis, at least, is continuing his campaign to damage the former Speaker, Mr Slipper — a campaign that began with his liaison with Mr Ashby and is continuing in spite of the Federal Court dismissing the allegations of sexual harassment. Mr Ashby and one of his legal advisors are appealing the judge’s decision and comments on the case.

The judge also was of the opinion that Mr Ashby’s case against Mr Slipper was a conspiracy to bring down the federal Australian government. It has been pointed out by news media commentators and members of the fifth estate (the new, alternative, news media) that while Steve Lewis had his head down feeding stories back to his newspaper he somehow missed one of the biggest political scoops of the past decade.

A story about a conspiracy to bring down the government would not serve the agenda of Mr Lewis’ employer, News Limited, in the same way as a series of stories alleging sexual and other misconduct by Mr Slipper. That’s why this story is being referred to as Ashbygate.

[Additional information, January 19, 2013]

While News Limited media maintains its campaign against the federal government, the Fairfax owned press, notably The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) and Melbourne’s The Age, have softened their approach since about the time of the Prime Minister’s so-called “misogyny speech” (see Pennies drop and the balance shifts http://bit.ly/13N69RS).

SMH columnist Richard Ackland in his column yesterday (January 18, 2013) said the investigative bloodhounds of the press have let “Tony Abbott and other leading Coalition ornaments off the hook”.

“There are still so many loose threads dangling off the James Ashby case it is amazing that those dedicated to holding politicians to account have let this one pass.”

Read Mr Ackland’s column here:

http://bit.ly/Wa5ZyE

Veteran investigative reporter Margo Kingston (a former SMH journalist) also commented on the sudden lack of interest in the Ashbygate affair in her story for Independent Australia yesterday. See: http://bit.ly/ScavyA

Are the actions of Mr Lewis in investigating and reporting the Ashby case as squeaky clean as Justice Rares seems to think they are? Here’s a view by The Global Mail’s Bernard Lagan:

http://bit.ly/VGnc0N

Scroll Up